Hurricane Sandy, NUMC, and community health

The week of Sandy at NUMC, and some advice on staying healthy

On behalf of the NUMC /NuHealth team, I hope that you and your family are safe and sound as we head into the first weekend post-Sandy. It has been a hectic week here.  The planning began last weekend as we partnered with Long Beach Hospital in evacuating their hospital and nursing home patients in anticipation of the hurricane. The movement of roughly 100 patients went smoothly, highlighting the importance of teamwork, anticipation and planning in such emergencies. Little did we know what was about to befall the Long Beach community, but luckily their most vulnerable patients were safe from the storm.

NUMC normally has an average daily census of 400 patients; we have been running between 500-550 during this week.  Our staff, with many reinforcements from Long Beach Hospital, has been working heroically around the clock to assure great care.  This is despite their having to manage their own hurricane situations-ranging from loss of housing, heat and child supports to the gas crunch that settled in as the week progressed.  As we have had a marked influx of patients, we have been challenged by the difficulty of discharging patients back into the post-Sandy community, and have been working closely with Health Commissioner Larry Eisenstein and his team to provide safe shelter.  They have been doing a herculean job.

The long range forecast is calling for a possible storm mid week. Just what we need!  Let’s hope for the best and prepare for the worst. Take advantage of this weekend and go to open food stores to restock.  Bottled water, non-perishable canned goods, candles,  flashlights and batteries, as we have learned, are essential items in your disaster preparation kit. If you regretted the lack of blankets over the past few nights, try to stock up these as protection against cold nights.

There are a number of community wide health concerns that I would like to share. Many patients have had difficulty in accessing medical care, including prescription refills. The on-campus NUMC outpatient facilities will be fully operational on Monday, November 5. The NuHealth Family Health Centers in Hempstead, Elmont and Roosevelt will also be open for business as usual on Monday; as of Saturday AM we still do not have power in our New Cassel office. 

We have seen dozens of cases of carbon monoxide poisoning related to the use of generators or barbeques as indoor sources of heat. With the temperature dropping over the next few days, be aware that generators, barbeques and kerosene heaters MUST be used outside only, in areas with good ventilation. Finally, with the overwhelming number of trees and branches we are seeing trauma injuries from falling trees, chainsaw use, and unstable ladders.  Be careful!!

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